EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – When you look at Carrie Kern’s Instagram page, you’re quickly drawn in by her three children. Short videos show Ainsely, AJ, and Audrey playing or snuggling together in matching PJs.
“They are always all over her, loving her and cheering her on,” says Carrie about the older children’s attention toward their youngest sibling, Audrey. Carrie explains “She was born last April. She was diagnosed with a high-grade glioma last July at about 3 and a half months old.” A glioma is a cancerous brain tumor.
In early photographs of Audrey, it is not difficult to spot that her skull is larger than expected. “It was off the charts, greater than 99th percentile,” says Carrie. “She had a CT scan in the ER and initially they weren’t sure if it was a brain bleed, or if it was a tumor, but pretty rapidly after that, they thought it was a brain tumor.”
Roland and Carrie Kern are an air force family who’ve settled in Edmond. Carrie works as a nurse practitioner. The Kerns put their precious baby into trusted hands at OU Children’s Hospital and Jimmy Everest Cancer Center. A shunt was used to relieve the pressure on her brain, caused by a tumor that was blocking normal drainage.
In the past, a case like Audrey’s would have required chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Now targeted therapies are available, and in Audrey’s case, the medicine targeted the tumor’s specific mutation.
Audrey’s dad, Roland recalls “The doctors seemed to be very blown away from what they saw with tumor size initially, to within the first month of treatment, the tumors had gone down 70 percent.”
Side-by-side comparisons of the tumor before and after are remarkable.
Carrie Kern says “Right now she is on two medications and if they can get the tumor down to size, a resection or surgery might be possible. She is developmentally delayed, and her tumor has caused her to be blind. So, I think we need to take it a day at a time and see how she progresses and what milestones she meets.”
Each day the Kerns celebrate Audrey’s small milestones, improving her motor functions. They also love to see her personality emerge.
“She’s content and super chill,” says Carrie, “She’s a happy, content baby.”
The Kerns are grateful for their medical team, which has their back.
“Whenever we go there, they always call us by name. They never seem to run out of compassion, which seems incredible. We are grateful for every day we get with her.”
If you’d like to help children like Audrey fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.